Jameis Winston to Opt for NFL Draft

Jameis Winston(1)

Jameis Winston, winner of the 2013 Heisman Trophy, has opted to enter the NFL Draft.

The Florida State quarterback’s father, Antonor, said his son will forgo his junior season and enter the NFL draft, according to ESPN. Antonor Winston said that his son had initially wanted to announce his plans until after the College Football Playoff National Championship game but, after praying Tuesday night, decided he would acknowledge his plans on Wednesday.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers own the first pick in the draft. The quarterback-needy Titans, Redskins, and Jets also own picks in the top ten. Winston figures to compete with Marcus Mariota for the interests of these teams.

Winston’s father pointed out that the NFL draft advisory committee gave his son a first-round grade. ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr. echoed the NFL committee’s high opinion of Winston’s abilities, calling Winston the second-best college QB in the country behind 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Kiper ranked Winston sixth on his latest Big Board, released the day before Christmas. In the last two years, Winston, who only lost one game in his two seasons at QB, ranked fourth among college QBs with 65 touchdown passes and 7,964 passing yards, and second with passes of 20 yards or more.

Although no one doubts the red-shirt sophomore’s skills, the risk factors for a team taking him derive from his off-the-field behavior, especially with the recent NFL problems involving Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. As ESPN’s Todd McShay put it,

Winston’s red flags are off the field … The cons about Jameis Winston are what are you getting with maturity and with the individual off the field? Can he stay out of trouble? And can he handle himself in a manner where you feel comfortable giving him $25 million or $30 million and tagging him from Day 1 as the face of your franchise? It’s hard, man. I don’t know the answer right now.

Just last month, Florida State held an internal student code of conduct hearing to consider rape allegations against Winston. The former Florida Supreme Court justice presiding over the hearing said, like a state prosecutor the year before in justifying not proceeding with a case, that not enough evidence existed to find Winston guilty. Earlier this season, the team suspended Winston for one game for yelling a profane sexually explicit phrase in FSU’s on-campus student union. In the spring, a store’s security camera caught the quarterback heisting about $30 worth of crab legs.